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Welwyn in World War I

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Soldiers from the Moorhen

The ‘Hertfordshire Mercury’ of 18th July 1908 carried the following piece -


  WELWYN. Forty-six years in One Beerhouse. At the Petty sessions on  Friday Mr B.H.R. Daltry on behalf of Messrs McMullen Ltd, applied for  the transfer of the license of the Moorhen Beerhouse, at the corner of  Mimram Road, from Mr Charles Morrell to Mr Leonard Young. Mr  Daltry said Mr Morrell had held the license of this house for the long  period of forty-six years, but was now giving it up as he was getting an old  man.


Many would not now know of the existence of ‘The Moorhen’ as a Welwyn pub, which is not surprising, since it closed it’s doors in 1918, just ten years after Charles Morrell gave up his license on the grounds of old age. However most will recognise the building in Mimram Road.


Charles Morrell, who in 1908 was giving up the Licensed trade due to old age was not a ‘local’ lad, nor was his wife Sarah. He was born in 1833 in Eastwick, near Harlow, and married Sarah Wingfield in Pentonville in 1861. Shortly thereafter he is recorded in Welwyn, resident near the Old Rectory.


Charles worked variously as a Mail Cart Driver, butcher, fishmonger and publican at the Moorhen.

Charles and Sarah had eight children in Welwyn and at least the three youngest are known to have served, all as professional soldiers with the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

William Wingfield Morrell attested to the Regiment in 1889, having already served in the Herts Volunteers. By 1908 he had served in Singapore, India and Malta and reached the rank of Colour Sergeant. In 1911 he became part of the Regimental Permanent Staff and spent some time in Fleetwood as an Instructor to the Territorial Force. At the outbreak of war he was appointed as an Acting Regimental Sergeant-Major and served in England. In 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant and became Adjutant to the 5th Battalion.

Arthur Wingfield Morrell joined the Regiment and by 1901 had reached the rank of Colour Sergeant with his regiment at Farnborough. In 1903 he married Maude Creedon of Southampton and by 1911 they lived in married quarters at Lancaster with their 2 year old son Charles Arthur, who had been born in Lucknow, India. Arthur was now Quartermaster Sergeant and at the outbreak of war was appointed Quartermaster to the 3rd Battalion, with an honorary rank of Lieutenant.

Edward Wingfield Morrell was the youngest son, born in 1879. He attested to the Royal Lancaster Regiment in 1896, having already served as a Volunteer with the Bedfordshire Regiment. Like his brothers he served in Singapore, India and Malta. In 1910 he married Anne Kate Bailley and in 1911 he was with the 1st Battalion in India, where their first son Eric was born later that year. At the outbreak of war he was a Company Sergeant-Major and serving in France. He fought at the retreat from Mons and was taken prisoner in August 1914. Just a few months after this his second son Lionel was born in Petersfield. He was eventually repatriated in October 1918, before being discharged in March 1919.

Now a private house,

“The Moorhen”

was in Mimram Road